Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2019

ARE YOU A SOUTHPAW?

WRITERS WORDS: “I’m totally left-sided. I am completely left-handed, completely left-footed.” –Elvis Costello

 

APRIL 2019 MONTHLY MUSING

 

ARE YOU A “SOUTHPAW?”

I muse. How did the term southpaw become affiliated with left-handed individuals? After reading many definitions, basically a southpaw is a left-handed person. “The word was primarily used in baseball, but appears in other contexts as well. But despite its use in baseball, the term almost certainly did not originate with that sport. Use of southpaw to mean the left hand goes back all the way to 1813, long before baseball, as we know it today, existed.” (www.wordorigins.com)  However, it is widely accepted the term originated in the United States.

I’m left-handed. My Dad and one of my sisters are also left-handed. Dad, growing up in the early twentieth century, often told us how his grade school teachers slapped his left hand with rulers and made him change hands when writing. As a result, he learned to sign legal documents with his right hand, but throughout his life, including becoming an accomplished bowler winning many trophies, he did everything else with his left-hand.

Negative connotations abounded during this era and “left-handed facts reveal that left-handedness has been misinterpreted countless times over the course of the centuries as something very negative.” (Left Handed Facts.net) Primitive superstitions followed left-handed people labeling them as witches, criminals, unlucky, clumsy, dishonest and even mentally ill.  I learned approximately 10-12 percent of people in the United States are left-handed equating to 30 million U.S. “lefties.” Further statistics indicate that approximately 400,000 left-handed children are born each year in our country and remain so throughout their lives. There are statistics galore on the reasons for left-handedness in our society. Some indicate gender is indicative of left-handedness–more males than females are left-handed. And, if both parents are left-handed, there is a 26 percent chance that their offspring will be left-handed.

However, statistics and definitions aside, I find specific southpaws more interesting:

Did you know?

Babe Ruth, a famous southpaw, batted and threw left-handed, but wrote right-handed.

Martina Navratilova won all those singles and doubles tennis championships as a left-hander, but she too wrote right-handed.

Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer, played golf right-handed, but performed most non-golfing activities left-handed.

Well-known PGA golfers Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson are left-handed.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William of England are all left-handed.

Bob Dylan, one of the best-selling artists of all time with numerous Grammy Awards, Golden Globe and an Oscar, is left-handed.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” was left-handed

Oprah Winfrey, Jim Hendrix and Bill Gates are left handed.

Deceased notables, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein and, Presidents George H.W. Bush, Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, were all left handed.

Past-Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are left handed.

International Left-hander Day is August 13, 2019!!!

And yours truly, Gaye Buzzo Dunn, mentioned above, is left-handed. I write left-handed. I use a garden trowel and tools with my left hand. I play golf with my left hand. (Two teaching pros advised me to play right-handed) My claim to fame is this. Not only do I write underhand when many left-handers right overhand  from left to right on paper, I also can write legibly backwards on paper right to left.( I began doodling this way one day when words I needed for a story did not materialize) I am somewhat ambidextrous. I iron clothes with an iron always held in my right hand.

Although I was unaware of International Left-hander Day until I wrote this Musing, I feel it’s a nice recognition of southpaws like me who defy a particular “right hander fits all” genus.

However, I say to all “Lefties and Righties” —-Regardless of handedness—WRITE ON!

READERS:  Don’t forget to LIGHT IT UP BLUE-April is Autism Awareness Month.


Responses

  1. Quite an impressive list of people and facts. Makes me wish I was left-handed! 🤣

    Like

    • Ah, must have a few “righties” around too. Thanks for the comment!

      Like


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